Artwork by Nelson Kane Design    

Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

The Enneagram (Part 1)

Type One: The Need to Be Perfect

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I like to start by describing the One, because it is my Enneagram number; and if you’ll allow me to first make fun of myself, then hopefully you’ll allow me to do it with your number later.

The One is the reformist compulsion of the gut triad. Ones need to be perfect, and for a One this means feeling that they are right and good. Ones are idealists, motivated and driven by the longing for a true, just, and moral world. Somewhere in their childhood, they experienced the world as beautiful and perfect. And it’s no wonder, because their “Soul Child,” or original dream of life, is the joyful Seven. I remember moments that were so wonderful, so serene, so whole, with no need to eliminate anything. (Did you notice my happy, smiling seven-year-old self on the banner?) God was in it and I was in it and life all made sense. Then somewhere later on I realized, “Darn it, it isn’t a perfect world!” So I moved to the impossible conviction: “I’m going to find a way to make it perfect.” And that became my entrapped Enneagram One position. It’s the original, positive soul experience that all the types are trying to recreate, but their new agenda becomes an entrapped “false self.”

Ones are often good teachers and reformers. They can spur others to work and mature and grow. The demanding, critical voices within them make it hard for Ones to live with imperfection—especially their own. “Anger” is their root sin, although they seldom get directly angry. It is more a low-level resentment because the world is not the way they know it should be! They repress their anger because they see it as something imperfect in themselves. At the same time, it energizes them to work really hard for their ideals and principles. Talk about an inner conflict! Ones are driven toward righteousness, arrogance, and perfectionism. They unfortunately believe in meritocracy: you get what you deserve, so you’d better be good and work hard. There is no free lunch! That is why the concept of grace is so foundationally important for me; it alone breaks down all this silly merit-badge thinking.

In order to discover their gift, which is cheerful tranquility or serenity, Ones must first realize that they are not that good. They may have to “sin boldly” to see this, or at least recognize that every good thing they have ever done has also involved self-interest. Then they can experience unearned grace, which finally allows them to be at peace and happy—even with imperfection.

Adapted from The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective, pp. 49, 52-55,
and The Enneagram: The Discernment of Spirits (CD, DVD, MP3 download)

Gateway to Silence:
I want to see all—my sin and my gift.


Interested in hearing more about the Enneagram?

Richard Rohr’s The Enneagram: The Discernment of Spirits
is a great way to get started.


Now through May 31, take 25% off the downloadable MP3 format
with coupon code 0514endis25.


Order at


Promotion valid through May 31, 2014; coupon cannot be applied to previous orders. Coupon valid only for the MP3 format; it does not apply to CD or DVD formats. One coupon use per customer.

Did you get this message forwarded from someone else? Wish to sign up for CAC's email lists yourself? Subscribe to CAC email lists here.

You are receiving this message because you subscribed to the CAC’s “Daily Meditations and CAC Updates ” email list. You can unsubscribe or change your email preferences at any time. If you would like to change your email address, please email a request to with your current and new email addresses.

Please do not reply to this email. For more info about:

•  Living School, visit

•  CAC Events, visit

•  CAC Bookstore, visit

•  Supporting CAC, visit

•  Technical Help, email